Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Accidents" and Vision Zero

New Geography

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones is a smart guy, but he's "mystified" by an idea that originates from "a group" trying to get us all to stop talking about traffic "accidents":

I remember this from my driver's ed class 40 years ago. Our instructor told us endlessly that they were "collisions," not accidents. But we're still talking about accidents 40 years later, so apparently this is a tough habit to break.

And the truth is that I didn't really get it back then. I still don't. "Accident" doesn't imply that something is unforeseeable, or that no one can be blamed, or that nothing could possibly have been done to prevent it. Here's the definition: "noun. an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap."

"Unintentional" is the key word here. If you drop the dinner dishes, it's unintentional unless you're pissed off at your family and deliberately threw the dishes at them. Then it's not an accident. Ditto for cars. If you deliberately run over someone, it's not an accident. If it's not deliberate, it is ("Crash" vs. "Accident" Doesn't Seem Like It Matters Very Much).

Drum is apparently unfamiliar with the anti-car movement that's led by the bike lobby. The SFBC's new leader, Noah Budnick, makes it clear what the terminology bullshit means to his special interest group:

It starts with a simple matter of leadership, which is stating that traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable. They’re not accidents. That change in thinking is an incredibly important first step...When the [political]leadership acknowledges that all traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable, then you can move past these policy debates about whether or not zero is appropriate, and you can start from a strong moral position (emphasis added).

Those of us who do not belong to or represent an anti-car special interest group---that is, everybody else---understands that it's simply untrue "that all traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable" because of a thing called human nature. As Commander Ali put it last year, people---motorists, pedestrians, cyclists---will engage in a lot of "really bad behavior" on city streets, which sometimes causes death and injury regardless of how well our streets are designed and paved.

But according to Streetsblog and Budnick's group, there's a war happening on city streets, with those wicked motor vehicles---cars, trucks, buses---attacking pedestrians and cyclists, and the only way to fight it is by punishing motorists and making it more expensive and difficult to drive, especially in cities like San Francisco.

Budnick's idea of staking out "a strong moral position" is really about the sense of moral superiority cyclists have over the rest of us benighted souls who don't ride bikes. Steve Jones made it explicit several years ago in the Bay Guardian:

I understand that bicyclists are criticized in many quarters as a vocal minority with a self-righteous sense of superiority and entitlement, and that I'm personally accused of bias for writing empathetically about bicyclists in dozens of bike-related stories. Well, guess what? I don't apologize. We are better than motorists, by every important measure. We use less space and fewer resources and create less waste and pollution (emphasis added).

Get out of their way, they don't burn fossil fuel!

As a matter of verifiable fact, traffic fatalities in the US have already been going down steadily for 100 years.

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At 11:36 AM, Anonymous sfthen said...

It would be interesting for Steven T. Jones to write about how he and the other SFBG-types (geography professors, etc) in the "New American Counterculture" will get to and survive in Black Rock without using "less space and fewer resources" and without creating "less waste and pollution." Or using any fossil fuel.

Lock a fence around the Playa and let all those New Counterculture people remain there for a mere month living green and sustainable as they peddle around and get to know the community and show the world how it should be done, how right and visionary they are.

Most likely if there are any survivors at all at the end of that month they would return to SF ready to vote for Donald Trump because he would now make a lot more sense than Steven T. Jones.

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, have you seen this from the latest "Critical Mass" where cyclists assaulted a woman in her car in the Marina?


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